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“The Tang Clan is one of East Qin’s factions.”
More silence answered Ning Nuo’s statement. Many of them, especially members of the military and trade consortium, looked as if they were on the verge of falling apart.
Then Ning Nuo said, “Kangan Private Bank…is one of Long Feiye’s private enterprises.”
Cloud Realm Trade Consortium’s head elder suddenly clutched at his clothes and pounded his chest. Fortunately, the people around him helped him in time before he suffocated to death and lost his life. Everyone else was left utterly dumbstruck and too stunned to react. They only felt that everyone was a horrific dream!
Ning Nuo’s heart was stifled as well, but he still held on.
“My big brother’s terms with Long Feiye was that once Jun Yixie set his troops against the Northern Li emperor, the south central commander-in-chief’s estate will relax merchant restrictions and lower taxes against us. Long Feiye agreed with a personal written statement currently in Master Ning’s hands.”
Ning Nuo knew that if he hadn’t said those words, many other would be nearly stifled to death like the head elder. As expected, his statement brought a round of relieved sighs, including one from the ever faithful Fifth Elder.
“Long Feiye had no other conditions? He really agreed?” Myriad Merchant Hall’s Head Elder couldn’t help asking. He was curious to know how Master Ning had gotten these terms down with Long Feiye in the first place. Truthfully speaking, the Di Clan’s circumstances, along with Master Ning’s own plight, wasn’t enough make demands! Moreover, someone as astute as Long Feiye would definitely know that once the restrictions were lifted, Cloud Realm Trade Consortium would have a big chance to recover its prowess.
Ning Nuo shook his head and handed the letter to Head Elder. He was curious to know as well.
Once Head Elder finished reading, he gave the letter to the rest of the table. It clarified all the points mentioned in the silver drafts and gave the Di Clan clear orders. No one present at the table dared to object.
The head elder of Cloud Realm Trade Consortium said, “In short, I’ll leave everything here to the rest of you. I need to hurry back to the consortium and make arrangements. There are many things to do regarding the business in the south central regions, so I won’t tarry here.”
Not only did they have to re-organize task responsibilities, but also prepare for the lift on trade restrictions. Head Elder was truly afraid that Ning Nuo would make him stay to meet with the princess at East Origin Hall too.
As soon as he finished speaking, Deputy General Xue rose to his feet as well. “Young Master Nuo, there’s a lot of details I need to settle regarding the incoming battle horses. This soldier will take his leave as well.”
But Ning Nuo only said, “The consortium members can all leave, but the military members need to stay. Deputy General Xue, make preparations. Tonight we meet with the princess at East Origin Hall. We’ll need your ideas for how to work together with East Qin’s military!”
When Deputy General Xue thought of Long Feiye and Han Yunxi, his scalp turned numb. But Ning Nuo had already issued orders, so he didn’t dare refuse. “Yes, this soldier understands.”
That night, Ning Nuo had Myriad Merchant Hall’s Head Elder and Deputy General Xue of the military camp join him to head for East Origin Hall. Fifth Elder quietly watched them leave with a disappointed face. After all these experiences, he was more and more dissatisfied with the Di Clan’s internal affairs. If Master Ning’s letter hadn’t come in time, those two would have led the Di Clan and the princess to irreconcilable ends. He had originally planned to tag along and find a chance to remind the princess of this issue in private, but Ning Nuo had forbidden it.
As soon as Ning Nuo’s group announced themselves, Xu Donglin came out to personally lead them to the back courtyard. Fortunately, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi hadn’t started their nightly dual cultivation yet, or else they would have had to wait until the next day.
Han Yunxi had begun cultivating her poison storage space after leaving the Poison Sect as well. When she did, she sensed Lil Thing doing the same. Since it was trying so hard, she had to work more, too. Only when her poison storage space surpassed Bai Yanqing’s would Lil Thing be safe. Then it could help them deal with the man too. Simultaneously, it would help Lil Thing’s poison teeth heal faster, too.
Every night since their departure from the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds, she and Long Feiye had been dual cultivating an extra two hours before they went to sleep. Then they’d crawl out of bed first thing next morning. A few things she’d been preparing in secret had to be delayed as a result. Sometimes, Long Feiye even felt distressed enough to simply do Han Yunxi after their cultivation sessions until she fell senseless. Every time that happened, it was impossible for her to get up early the next day without sleeping until noon. Although Han Yunxi said she disapproved of Long Feiye’s methods to make her sleep, her body was all to willing to submit.
Ning Nuo’s group of three was led to a tea pavilion in the rear. Both Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were drinking tea there, the former steeping the leaves while the latter noticed them from a distance. Gu Beiyue was sitting behind Han Yunxi and looking at them with a faint smile; Gu Qishao sat next to him while leaning lazily against the railings and crossing his legs. Behind Long Feiye sat Tang Li with an absolutely stormy expression.
Leaving aside the consortium head elder and Deputy General Xue, even Ning Nuo was quailed by the sight. He privately rejoiced that Long Feiye wasn’t looking their way, or else he would have collapsed. Still, as soon as he entered the pavilion, Long Feiye looked up. In a flash, Ning Nuo missed his brother desperately. He knew that Ning Cheng would have no qualms here. He had interacted with Long Feiye once on Fishery Island, but it was no comparison to the present. Still, he managed to keep calm despite his tension.
With a small smile on his face, he paid respects to Han Yunxi first. “Subordinate Ning Nuo greets the princess.”
Seeing this, the extremely nervous consortium head elder and Deputy General Xue recovered their bearings and quickly followed suit.
“No need for formalities, have a seat,” Han Yunxi said.
“Many thanks to princess, but it’s enough if this subordinate stands,” Ning Nuo didn’t dare to sit down!
Only Long Feiye and the princess were seated in this pavilion, while Gu Beiyue and the rest were all sitting some place behind them. He had no right to sit at the same level as the princess.
Han Yunxi didn’t force the issue, but had servants arrange for separate stools for all three guests. Once they were all seated, Han Yunxi began, “Since you’ve come, you must know Ning Cheng’s situation over there. Let’s not waste time. There’s about 15 more days before the battle horses reach Tianning borders. What are the army’s arrangements?”
Han Yunxi looked towards Deputy General Xue, who was very surprised. He had been expecting Han Yunxi to start with a show of strength and call him to account for his actions at Hundred Poisons Sect. But she hadn’t mentioned a word, as if none of that ever happened. Ning Nuo had to secretly tug at Deputy General Xue so he could recover.
Putting everything aside, he reported, “Master Ning said in his letter that Jun Yixie arranged for a few animal trainers to break in the horses. This soldier wants to use them thoroughly.”
“How so?” Han Yunxi asked.
Deputy General Xue stole a peek at Long Feiye before continuing. “Jun Yixie will definitely trust those horse trainers’ words.”
Naturally, Jun Yixie had arranged for the trainers so he could control the battle horses here as well as using them as his agents. They had to meet a plot with a plot and use those men to increase Jun Yixie’s faith in Ning Cheng. Ning Cheng himself had to hold off Jun Yixie for three months while protecting Ning Jing and the rest. That required guts, because Jun Yixie would ruin all his efforts at the slightest sign of suspicion.
Han Yunxi nodded, then asked, “Jun Yixie wants to use Master Ning to block the the Great Qin’s forces. What are your views on this?”
“Princess, once the battle horses arrive in 15 days, Master Ning will pay Jun Yixie his soldiers’ pay and provions. Jun Yixie is planning to use 10 days to organize his troops and head north for a sudden attack against the Northern Li emperor. This subordinate privately believes that the East Qin army can use the next few days to launch a pre-emptive strike against the Ning Clan troops in a show of skirmishes,” Deputy General Xue replied.
As long as East and West Qin started “fighting,” Jun Yixie would be further convinced that Ning Cheng had really betrayed West Qin. At the same time, he would treat the man better. He needed Ning Cheng to guard the south for him while he attacked the north without fear, after all. Naturally, Deputy General Xue’s views were Ning Cheng’s own, while Han Yunxi’s group had long guessed as much.
Han Yunxi next posed an incisive question. “Just who should win and lose these next few fights?”
A victor was needed in battle, but that meant one side would have to suffer losses. Long Feiye hadn’t spoken a word since the start, but his lips drew up into a faint curve as he continued to drink his Winterflake tea.
Deputy General Xue didn’t think twice before answering. “Princess, Jun Yixie’s led troops before. Those horse trainers aren’t simple men either, so we won’t be able to trick anyone unless we fight for real.”
“Keep talking,” Han Yunxi said.
“The Ning Clan troops will lose and abandon Tongyang Prefecture. Then they’ll retreat to Heyang Pass and switched to the defensive. Because the Ning Clan troops have the red coat cannons and winter is coming soon, the East Qin army will fail to take Heyang, thus leaving both sides at a standstill,” Deputy General Xue replied.
Han Yunxi privately esteemed Deputy General Xue despite his harsh words at Hundred Poisons Sect. When it really came time to work together, Deputy General Xue knew to preserve the main forces while allowing the loss of Tongyang Prefecture.
Finally, Long Feiye deigned to speak. “How do we arrange the times?”
Deputy General Xue was taken aback, but remained calm. “We’ll need to cooperate with Master Ning in regards to the time. I don’t know if East Qin could work with us on that?”
Only Ning Cheng was capable of grasping Jun Yixie’s movements from his side. Han Yunxi glanced at Long Feiye and prepared to speak, but he easily agreed. “Done. Later on, this crown prince will have Baili Qiyu contact you. He will cooperate with your plans.”
On the sidelines, Gu Beiyue broke into a quiet smile. Long Feiye’s truly an old fox. Handing this over to Baili Qiyu is all too appropriate.
As a couple working together, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were naturally of united hearts and effort. With the big picture in front of them, there was no point haggling over losses or gains. However, their subordinates were a different question altogether. Making Baili Qiyu handle this business would both expose whether the Baili Army held reservations regarding the East-West Qin alliance as well as restricting Deputy General Xue’s movements. Additionally, it was a way to get the two armies to collaborate ahead of time. By next spring, they would have to fight against Northern Li as a united front.
Han Yunxi could see Long Feiye’s diligent intentions as well. Although this was an alliance, Ning Cheng had taken the leadership role. Both armies would have to follow his arrangements and plan according to his strategic policies. Truthfully speaking, Ning Cheng was the one threatening Long Feiye this time, but the latter had not only accepted it but yielded a large step back.
After Ning Nuo’s group left, Han Yunxi muttered to Long Feiye, “Are you giving me and Tang Li face?”
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